Following on from last week’s blog about why I’ll miss Semana Santa, here are a few reasons why I’m actually glad not to be there this year.
I do love Semana Santa, but at times I get frustrated and annoyed that we have to wait so long for the processions. I don’t mind the walking about and finding new places to see certain processions, but it’s the standing around that does my head in. Especially if you get caught up in a place where people decide to use you as a mini gate way for a short cut, which often seems to happen as I’m a guiri. The waiting can be fun if you’re having a beer or something, or if you feel fresh as its early in the day, but when it’s late and you’ve been walking about all day and your calves are aching and you just want to go home and have a kip, then it can get tiring. There’s not much that’s going to change though. If anything the processions are going to get longer as the years go on, not shorter.
The State of the City
Sevillanos aren’t the best civilians in the world at keeping their city clean, so imagine the state the place gets in during Semana Santa. It gets trashed. I find it incredible that the locals treat it so badly. It’s supposed to be a religious festival, which means being nice to others and respecting the area, but a lot of people don’t seem to care. They are quite happy to throw their empty packets of crisps, balls of tin foil, and sunflower seed shells all over the floor. Not to mention the glass bottles smashed, wrappings from Burger King or McDonalds, and, of course, the lovely peeing up against the walls.
The worst place is las Sillas – the Chairs – originally named for the richer, posher members of Sevilla. It’s here where the suited and booted sit and watch the processions all week. I tried it once, but I found it dull and boring to watch processions from the same seat all day. Anyway, the state of the floor once the chairs have been packed up is atroscious. It’s always the wealthier members of society who seems to treat the place like rubbish.
General Bad Feeling
At least once a day I normally get annoyed about the behaviour of people during the festival. I see Semana Santa as a time to be respectful and also try to have patience with others, but that’s hard to do when there are so many muppets about. On more than one occasion I’ve been shoved out the way by people trying to push past me and get a closer look at a procession. Once I was with my Dad and wife waiting to see a procession when I guy came and set up a ladder right in front of us so he could take better photos. I gave him a right ear full when it had finished. There’s a lot of shoving about too. People pushing in, stamping on your feet, complaining at each other and a lot of bad feeling. I find the attitude of some people incredible when it’s supposed to be a peaceful time of year
A bulla – massive crowd – can be frightening. Imagine you have seen a procession and you want to head home, or you are trying to get through some streets to see another procession, but you can’t because there are so many people that the streets are blocked. Now imagine that about 400 people all want to go a different way and the chaos that is formed. It’s mental.
I got caught up in one near the cathedral once and it was scary. I got caught up behind a woman with a buggy (I don’t know why they bother bringing them out) and the crowd were literally pushing her over. I had to rescue her and push people out the way so she, and I, could get past.
Sometimes you can’t escape a bulla and it just creeps up on you. The best thing to do is keep calm and think that you will eventually get to where you want to go.
I spoke about doing my penitence in my other blog, but one aspect that saddens and frustrates me is the respect from the locals at times. Everyone knows that some processions are done in silence, which means the crowds should be quiet when we walk round, but this doesn’t always happen. The worst part is Las Sillas. The posher, stuck up members of Sevilla often talk and chat as we go past, and the parents don’t control their kids who are constantly asking for sweets and brotherhood stamps.
When we come out of the cathedral and pass up through the narrow Calle Francos, the crowds get even worse and often people try to push past me when I’m standing still. Last year one guy elbowed me out the way. He tried to do the same to the guy in front but he got sent flying. It’s frustrating because a lot of people don’t respect traditions, and this is coming from a guiri.
Saying that, like I said in my previous blog, I do love Semana Santa. The passion of the Sevillanos is impressive. It was hard to understand the devotion at first, but now I appreciate it and also look forward to the festival every year. I’m honoured that I’m able to take part in such an important event here and look forward to the years to come.
Have you ever witnessed Semana Santa in Sevilla, or other parts of Spain? How did you feel? If you are ever passing through Sevilla during Semana Santa and want to get in touch about the best processions to see or ask me any questions then just leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.